I guess from what I've heard and read that my situation was not at all unique. I'd been married to Howard for fifteen years and things had reached a point where things just seemed to be going on because of inertia. Howie and I still made love, but it was more like we did it because it was a duty we owed each other.
I couldn't remember the last time I pulled him into the bedroom because I wanted him nor could I remember the last time he came after me with any great degree of passion. The affection was still there. I loved cuddling up to Howie in the morning and I usually fell asleep at night snuggled up next to him. I guess the best way to describe our marriage was that we were comfortable with each other, but the passion was gone.
I don't even remember when I first looked at another man and wondered what it would be like to be with him. Would there be the passion that I no longer experienced in my marriage? That's all I did; wonder about it. I was still a pretty good looking woman and I did have plenty of chances to act on my curiosity, but I always passed.
I stopped occasionally for drinks with my co-workers and I had some passes made at me, but I always treated it as flirting and the most outrageous I ever got was kissing some of the guys if they caught me under the mistletoe at the company Christmas party. Well, that isn't exactly true. The most outrageous thing I ever did happened at a pool party at the boss's house. I was in the pool and Paul Baxter from Accounts Receivable kept dunking me and grabbing at my breasts. I finally had enough and I grabbed his penis through his swimming trunks and squeezed as hard as I could. I expected him to react by saying something like, "Ow! That hurts" but what he did was moan and say:
"Yes, oh God yes. Don't let go, please don't let go."
I turned him loose and fled the pool and then did my best to avoid him until he transferred to another office four months later.
I suppose that I would have gone through the rest of my life just looking and being curious had I not been promoted to office manager. I'd been in the position for three months when the company decided to send me to a three day seminar in Detroit. The first day covered the current "hot button" topic — sexual harassment. What constituted sexual harassment, how to deal with it and yadda, yadda, yadda.
There was a cocktail party that evening so you could meet others, socialize, exchange thoughts and ideas and network. I was getting a vodka tonic from the bar when I noticed him looking at me. Not just looking in my general direction, but looking at me. Several times during the evening when I looked in his direction I saw him looking at me.
Tall, handsome in a rugged way and at least ten years younger than me. I was at the bar getting another V and T (my third of the evening) when he came up to me and introduced himself. His name was Todd and he was a supervisor at a paper products manufacturing company located about four hours from where I lived. He said he had seen what he thought was a negative response cross my face when I was listening to one of the speakers and he wondered about it. As a woman in the work place he would have expected me to be one hundred percent behind the big push to make the work place friendlier to woman.
I had to laugh at that. I told him my position on the subject was a simple one. Human nature wasn't going to change just because a few upset people managed to get a bunch of rules changed or made and put into place. Yes, there were some things that needed to be corrected and some behaviors that were not acceptable, but on the whole I thought the entire idea of sexual harassment in the work place had been blown way out of proportion.
He laughed and said he couldn't agree with me more. He said that it seemed like the powers that be were determined to stamp out common sense in the work place. We talked about a few other things and then he asked me where my husband was and when I told him that Howie hadn't come with me I braced myself for the pass I expected. He surprised me by saying that it was too bad that the two of us (Howie and me) weren't able to enjoy a company paid mini-vacation. I asked where his wife was (I'd seen the ring) and he told me that she worked and couldn't get the three days off.
The cocktail party was starting to break up and he told me that he didn't feel like going up to his room and watching TV so he was going to hit the hotel lounge for a couple of drinks and then he asked me if I would care to join him. I didn't want to go sit in my room either and I knew that if he was hoping to score it wasn't going to happen so I said yes.
The lounge had live music and before we were halfway through our first drink Todd asked me to dance. He held me close, but not too close and we stayed out on the floor for three numbers. Then it was more talk, another drink and a couple of more dances. We were on our third drink when I started asking myself what was wrong with me? Todd was a perfect gentleman and didn't attempt anything even remotely like a pass. Didn't he think I was attractive? Wasn't I at least worth a 'soft' pass? I wasn't going to "play" but he didn't know that. He had to know that I found him to be a very attractive man even though he had no way of knowing that I wondered what he would be like much the same as I had wondered about other men.
By the time were on our third tour of the dance floor I found myself wishing that he would make a pass at me. I would let him down gently of course. But I was at the point where I needed to know that he found me attractive. Silly of me I guess, but I was upset that an attractive man didn't seem to think that I was worth his effort. But as much as I hoped for a sign from him it never came.
When it was time to leave he offered to walk me to my room and I just knew that if I said yes he would make his move when we reached the door of my room. I was trying to make up my mind whether to let him kiss me when he tried before gently pushing him away or to hold him off. I opted for letting him kiss me. Again, it was for a stupid reason — it would be the sign I needed that he did indeed find me attractive.
When we reached my door I had already rehearsed in my mind my gentle rejection. I took my key card out of my purse and turned toward him expecting him to bend down and try to kiss me. He smiled at me, told me that he had enjoyed my company and then he wished me goodnight and walked away. I started at his back as he walked away and again wondered what was wrong with me that he wouldn't even try for a goodnight kiss.
The next morning when I entered the hotel restaurant I saw him sitting in a booth and he looked up, saw me and waved me over to join him. We made general conversation as we had breakfast and then we attended that day's session. During that session they split us up into 'discussion groups' and Todd and I were in different groups.
When we broke for lunch he invited me to join him and his group for lunch. There were seven of us around a large table and as we ate we critiqued the seminar to date and all pretty much decided that it was a waste of time and money. The afternoon didn't get any better and when the session ended Todd asked me to join him for dinner and then maybe some drinks and dancing in the lounge after. I told him I wasn't feeling well and that I was going to turn in early. The truth was that I really didn't want to go to my room and no nothing but jump channels, but I wasn't up for another night of rejection and self doubt. To me it seemed like the only way my ego was going to get the stroking it seemed to want would be for me to flat out ask Todd to come up to my room and do me and that was never going to happen.
I skipped breakfast the next morning so I could avoid running into Todd and since the days session was going to end early to give the attendees an early start home there was no lunch break. I didn't get to talk with Todd again before I left. The crowning touch was that when I got home Howie acted like he didn't even know I was gone and even though I didn't realize it at the time, a seed had been planted.
Three weeks after the seminar I got a phone call at the office from Todd. After exchanging pleasantries he told me he had called because he had a problem with a couple of employees and he wanted a woman's perspective on things. We talked a while and I gave him my input and he thanked me and that was the start of it.
For the next two months we exchanged phone calls on the average of one a week as we talked shop and shared opinions on things that were going on in our work places. One morning I got a call from him and he asked me if I had plans for lunch. It turned out that he was in town to visit a supplier.
.... There is more of this story ...